I’d like to tell you I’m the kind of guy who fits in. Who’s been on an endless winning streak. Well-adjusted and happy.
But that would be untrue. My life is about spectacular peaks and long stretches of valley. And what’s got me through, what’s carried me to the next peak, has been music.
And I like some of the big hits. Who doesn’t smile when they hear “Sweet Home Alabama”? Who doesn’t crank it and sing along?
Then there are other songs, less famous, that mean even more to me, because they’re mine. Never played on the radio, never discussed in the paper, but part of my own personal pantheon.
Like “Restless In Mind.”
I love Wendy Waldman’s music. I bought her initial album upon the recommendation of “Rolling Stone” and I was not disappointed. I still play it forty years on.
But Wendy never broke through. She had a few hits, sung by others, but stop people on the street and they’re clueless.
But a few years back, not that many, in this century, Wendy released an album of loose ends entitled “Seeds and Orphans” and there’s this cut on there entitled “Restless In Mind.” I play it at least twice a week. When nothing is going right, when I need to feel in the pocket, I pull it up on my iPod. It never disappoints.
So I’m sitting in an art gallery in Thousand Oaks, literally a whole ‘nother area code, and Wendy sits down at the piano and her fingers start to move while she’s still talking and my heart starts to palpitate, SHE’S PLAYING RESTLESS IN MIND!
It’s obscure. It wasn’t on one of her Warner Brothers albums. I truly believed I’d die without ever hearing it performed live. But now she’s whipping it off, effortlessly, and my heart starts to soar, tears come to my eyes, I feel like my whole life is complete.
You can go to Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, you can sit with twenty thousand other people hearing the flavor of the moment, the has-been legend, but that’s a completely different experience from seeing your favorite only feet away. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, not to tell other people, but to feel fully alive.
I’m not even sure how I got here. Escaping Middlebury College and moving to L.A. It’s hard to leave the past for the unknown. But I was never ever comfortable there. L.A. is truly home. And the fact that I convinced my sister to move here first, for graduate school, paved the way for me.
And thereafter came so many blind alleys, so many losses, that if I didn’t have an iron constitution, not only would I not be writing this, I wouldn’t be here at all.
And I’m one of those guys who’s never satisfied with good enough. All I care about is excellence. I get satisfaction from those reaching for the stars and grabbing a few.
And that’s what Wendy Waldman has done.
And to hear her perform my songs not only allows me to look back without anger, but to see everything in proper perspective, it gives me the power to march forward, it convinces me my life was worth living.